Today we awoke halfway through the Panama Canal, in front of an island, a man-made one created when the United States flooded this area to create the waterway for the canal. The island is better known as “BCI” which stands for Barro Colorado Island. In Spanish that translates to Red Mud Island for its type of clay colored soil.

BCI is not only the largest island on the Panama Canal but it is home to one of the most studied tropical rainforests in the world. Research goes back even before the construction of the canal and it’s been managed by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute since 1923.


National Geographic Quest is one of the few ships allowed to stop here during her transit through the canal. And guests aboard have the rare opportunity to visit BCI to learn about the research, explore by forest trail, and enjoy a shoreside excursion by Zodiac.

After our morning on BCI, a local canal pilot boarded National Geographic Quest to finish our cruising of the Panama Canal, one of the engineering marvels of the world. We look forward to the adventures we'll find tomorrow.

Click View Gallery above to see some of the natural wonders inside the rainforest.